The town of Battleford recently completed budget deliberations for 2012, and the final document results in an estimated shortfall of $208,830.
The subject at Tuesday’s budget meeting was how to recoup this money.
In 2012, the Town expects to take in $8,914,987 in revenue. About $2.4 million of this comes from municipal taxes, $3.5 million from operating grants, and $1.5 million from utilities. Total expenditures not including capital costs total around $5 million, and capital expenditures total $8,576,800.
Town council was quick to point out that many of the capital expenditures are one-time expenses, like the Highway 4 twinning project. A total of $1,669,500 out of the capital budget is being spent on local improvements for streets and roads. The Town is also using a total of $4,499,587 in appropriated funds.
This leavesa remainder of $208,830.
Town Administrator Sheryl Ballendine compiled a list of 11 scenarios for the Town to consider to recoup this money, involving minimum tax rate increases, mill rate increases, or both. After some discussion, Town Council settled on a scenario that had mill rates remaining where they are, at 6.79, and increasing minimum tax for residential and commercial properties from $150 to $300.
The scenario also increases the base residential and base commercial taxes from $825 to $875 and $1,650 to $1,750.
During the discussion around the tax increase, Mayor Chris Odishaw argued he would be happy seeing the base residential tax increase to $1,200, explaining that, considering the services that the Town provides to its residents, $100 per month is not unreasonable.
The minimum tax increases will affect only 130 properties in the town, while the base tax increase will affect everyone. These increases are expected to increase the town’s revenue by $105,260 per year. The remaining $103,000 will be recouped through land sales. As the town has already sold two properties at Battle Springs Cove for around $60,000 each and has about 30 properties that will be made available for sale in the next year, it is all but certain to recoup the whole $208,830.
When asked to justify the base tax increase, Odishaw explained it would all be going towards local road improvements. To those who might think this department was overspending, Odishaw explained the difference was being raised through taxes and land sales.
The town also changed its local improvement policy. The original resolution was passed in 2002. The revised policy states the Town will cover 100 per cent of the cost of slurry and sidewalks, but that reconstruction, overlay, super micro overlay and rolled concrete curb spending will all be split 60-40 per cent, town-property owner.
Also discussed at the meeting was the Town’s five-year capital plan. Though the plan is strictly tentative, it did reveal the major projects the Town is likely to be spending money on regardless of who makes up the next administration. In 2013, the Town expects to spend a total of $7,263,000. Of this, $1.98 million will go towards Town Hall renovations, $850,000 will go towards improvements of streets and roads, $1 million will go towards the Opera House and $1.3 million will go towards Westpark upgrades . The remainder will go towards a large variety of smaller projects, including $570,000 towards 15th street and Battle Springs drainage.
In 2014, the town has $2,286,500 in capital projects. The largest of these are $400,000 of asphalt, $350,000 for landfill closure and $670,000 for sewer/water upgrades.
The next year will see much greater capital spending, with $2.75 million budgeted for a new fire station building and $500,000 for a new fire engine. The Town also budgets to spend $350,000 on landfill closure, $400,000 on asphalt replacement and $290,000 on a replacement for a garbage truck purchased in 2004. One million dollars will also be spent on the next arena, and $680,000 on water/sewer upgrades. In total, the Town will spend just under $6.2 million in 2015 on capital projects.
The Town will spend a comparatively smaller $1.7 million on capital projects in 2016. Much of this is made up in water/sewer upgrades totalling $680,000, campground shower construction totalling $250,000, $400,000 for asphalt replacement and $250,000 for a used ladder truck for the fire department.
Expenditures for 2017 are not as clear, as it is so far in the future. But the Town has budgeted to spend $150,000 upgrading the Tot Lot, $150,000 on bathrooms in the flats, along with another $680,000 for water and sewer upgrades and $400,000 for asphalt replacement.